Engineers have created a vitamin-pill-sized monitor for the body’s microbiome. 

Designed to be ingested to traverse the gastrointestinal tract and sample the entire spectrum of microorganisms present, the new device could enhance research into the gut microbiome and its association with numerous health conditions. 

Additionally, it could be instrumental as a diagnostic tool for adjusting the microbiome or delivering targeted treatments.

Researchers have completed preclinical characterisation and are now set to enter human clinical trials. 

The pill features a 3D printed soft elastic exterior equipped with sidewall inlets that respond to varying acidity levels, opening when the pill reaches the small intestine. 

It utilises elastic microvalves with swellable polyacrylate beads to close the inlets once intestinal content is collected. 

This technology, developed by a team led by Professor Sameer Sonkusale at Tufts Nano Lab, represents a significant improvement over previous versions, which had rigid shells. The current design is easier to ingest and offers better control over sampling in the small intestine.

The technology was developed at Tufts Nano Lab by a team led by Professor Sameer Sonkusale, along with post-doctoral researcher Ruben Del-Rio-Ruiz.